The next to link Central Visayas islands should be the Cebu-Bohol bridge, according to business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan who eyes to build it â€œcertainlyâ€ in less thanÂ 20 years from now.
Gov. Edgar Chatto told him this should happen, said Pangilinan, chair of the giant Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp. (MPTDC), in CebuÂ on Thursday.
Pangilinan expressed his interest in the monumental infrastructure connecting the two Region 7 island-provinces during the groundbreaking of the P28-billion Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX).
On invitation, Gov. Edgar Chatto himself attended the groundbreaking which was graced by no less than Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.
In his keynote speech, Duterte expressed support to the inter-island bridges project in the Visayas, which includes the Cebu-Bohol bridge, to spur economic growth and development in the region and country.
Pangilinanâ€™s MPTDC is funding the construction of the CCLEX, also known as the third Mactan bridge, until its target completion over the next three years or before 2020.
The two existing Mactan bridges are both connected to mainland Cebu via Mandaue City.
â€œThis (CCLEX) is the third bridge, but in my own assessment, you do need two more bridges and weâ€™d like to see the fourth bridge being built certainly in much less than 20 years,â€ Pangilinan said.
The businessman was referring the fourth bridge to the Cebu-Bohol bridge, which is also the first to ever link two island-provinces in Central Visayas.
â€œCHATTO TOLD MEâ€
â€œEarlier, Gov. Edgar Chatto told me it (the fourth bridge) should link the islands of Cebu and Bohol, and I said â€˜Absolutely!â€™â€ said Pangilinan, directly quoted by the Cebu media.
In his speech, Pangilinan acknowledged the Bohol governorâ€™s strong lobby for the inter-island bridges project, to include the Negros-Cebu-Bohol-Leyte connection or the so-called NECEBOLE bridges.
On the same day before the CCLEX groundbreaking, Chatto and Govs. Hilario Davide III of Cebu, Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental and Roger Mercado of Southern Leyte met with some Duterte cabinet officials and interested investors.
They discussed the inter-province connectivity which is believed to create dramatic changes in the economic development and growth of not just Region 7 but the Visayas.
Sec. Adelino Sitoy, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office chief and former Cordova mayor, invited the governors to the CCLEX event and acted as the host cabinet member during the meeting before the groundbreaking.
Chatto is the immediate past chairman of the Regional Development Council of Central Visayas (RDC-7) and MalacaÃ±ang has yet to name his successor.
It was during his term when the joint Regional Development Committee (RDCom) of the RDCs of Regions 6, 7, 8 and Negros Island Region (NIR) approved the â€œOne Visayasâ€ vision.
The vision craves to connect the Visayas provinces through the island bridges project under the Visayas Spatial Development Framework Plan (VSDFP).
Among the VSDFP features are the Cebu-Bohol bridge connecting Cebu via Cordova to Bohol via Getafe and Bohol-Leyte bridge from Ubay to the island town of Pres. Garcia to Maasin City in Southern Leyte.
Pangilinan spoke with interest to build the Cebu-Bohol bridge in less than two decades even if the project has yet to undergo a full-scale feasibility study.
The absence of feasibility study helps explain why the project, according to National Economic and Development Authority Director General Ernesto Pernia, a Boholano, is not yet approved by the NEDA Board.
The board is headed by the president.
There are even Chinese investors willing to finance the study, which will determine if the project can proceed through a public-private partnership (PPP) as in the case of the CCLEX.
Chatto lauded the CCLEX as it will impact positively on the entire regionâ€™s growth and not just Cebuâ€™s, adding that the project can well prelude to Boholâ€™s connection to Cebu via Cordova itself.
Pangilinan said that in whole, connecting the Visayas islands through bridges will transform the Visayas into â€œone big economic region.â€
The almost 18-kilometer Cebu-Bohol bridge is bound to be yet the biggest—by engineering and cost— singular infrastructure related to Bohol development.(Ven rebo Arigo)